Meet the Nevyn Cardigan by Susanna IC

We were so delighted to see that the latest issue of Twist Collective featured a beautiful cardigan design using our fabulous alpaca/wool/silk blend, Simplinatural. Nevyn by Susanna IC is both super stylish and wearable. Love the cables! Susanna was kind enough to share her design process. Read all about it below.

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Published in Twist Collective Winter 2014, I designed the Nevyn cardigan with detailed cables, mock ribbing, and I-cord edgings, in combination with a body skimming fit. The back cable panel creates a subtle waist shaping, the vertical lines of the overall ribbing pattern elongate and flatter a wide range of body types, while the zipper accentuates the garment’s modern vibe and clean lines. I worked Nevyn in pieces so it can be sewn together in order to provide extra support along the side seams; this prevents stretching and helps balance out the weight of the back cable motif and the front zipper.

To me, fall and winter knitting is all about cables and textures worked in cozy, soft yarns. I love working with cables and Nevyn started its life as an idea for a cabled vest. Ever since I moved to Texas, I don’t get to wear my jackets and hand knit sweaters very much, but I do get a lot of use out of my sleeveless vest.  It is a great layering piece because I can wear it over short and long sleeve tops during the transitional seasons, and I can also wear it under a jacket as an extra-warm layer during those few frosty days.

This is a quick sketch of the vest idea and a swatch of the back cable pattern from the original submission to Twist Collective:

PicMonkey Collage

After the basic idea was accepted, I’ve reworked the vest into a cardigan since not everyone lives in a warm southern climate. This was a win-win situation because adding the sleeves allowed me to add more cables just above the wrist ribbing – and I believe that one can never have too many cables. Then came the wait for the yarn… I am always impatient to see what yarn and color was chosen for my design, and opening the package always feels a little like Christmas morning. I was not disappointed. Alpaca, silk, and merino! Oh, my! Not only is SimpliNatural incredibly next-to-the-skin soft and snuggly, I was thrilled to find this beautifully rich shade of charcoal gray, which is one of my favorite colors. This project just flew off the needles thanks to the yarn’s softness and its amazing stitch definition, perfect for all the cables and textured stitches.

Here are two photos of the finished cardigan, © Faye Schiano for Twist Collective:

finished design

 

 

In closing, here are just a few options for making Nevyn your own. The original fits fairly close to the body, so for a roomier fit you can simply work the next larger size. If desired, you can easily customize the length of the sweater by working a few extra rows before the beginning of the back cable pattern. Finally, if you’d prefer a Nevyn vest, you can do that just by starting the armhole shaping about an inch lower and adding an inch or two of ribbing along the armhole after the shoulders and side seams are sewn together.

 

I would love to see your interpretations of Nevyn, and I hope you will share your projects with me on Ravelry. See you there!

Susanna

 

Meet the Tionne Pullover by Lee Meredith

If you’re a fan of our Facebook page, you may have seen our post about the fabulous Tionne Pullover by Lee Meredith a few weeks back. It’s so unique and versatile that it seems like there should be another word besides pullover to describe it. We’re delighted that Lee agreed to give us some great insights into how she came up with the design, and how Kenzie turned out to be the perfect yarn choice. Of course, we couldn’t agree more!

Be sure to read to the bottom of the blog post. We’ve got a fantastic giveaway of the yarn to make the design!

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I’ve been professionally designing accessory patterns for over 7 years, so I was pretty excited when, near the beginning of this year, I had a brainstorm for a sweater pattern concept that I thought I could handle, with zero previous garment design experience.  I had very little experience even knitting sweaters (I’d only knit one!), but this idea was boxy and without shaping, and relied on design elements that I did have lots of experience with, from my accessory designs: modular construction, any-gauge adaptability, stripes going in different directions, and flexible wearability.  I got kind of obsessed with turning the idea in my head into a pattern, and after writing out a draft and making a prototype in bulky yarn, I felt confident that this idea would indeed become my first garment design!
TionneSketch
So, once I was sure I was going to complete and self-publish the pattern, I needed to choose a yarn for my sample sweater.  I decided I wanted to use worsted weight, ideally a yarn on the lighter side of the worsted spectrum.  Like I mentioned, the design is for any gauge, so you can actually use any weight yarn – I figured a light worsted is a good kind of middle-weight for a big pullover sweater.  Knitters can make their own choices, but I wanted to present the sample in a yarn that was a really excellent fit for the pattern, of course!  So I looked around at what I had in my studio already, and I spotted a couple skeins of Kenzie that I’d bought at my LYS because I loved it, but it hadn’t yet found a project…
KenzieSwatch
I swatched with it, and yes!  It was perfect for this sweater!  Cozy, drapey, soft but durable, tweedy, excellent.  Yarn was chosen, now I just needed to pick my colors.  Oh colors, always a tough decision!
KenzieColors
Skacel sent me a color card, so that helped – well, actually it kind of made the decision harder, since all the colors were so great in real life!  I was tempted to make my sample with more colors, just so I could use more, since I loved them so much… but, I didn’t want the colors to overwhelm the design of the sweater, so I decided to stick with just two.  I spent about a month (!) thinking it over, making this colored-in sketch in all the different combos I was considering:
ColorsSketch
I finally landed on Malbec for the main color and Boysenberry for the contrasting stripes.
KenzieYarns
I am so happy with my choice – I love how the finished sweater turned out!!  After knitting my sample, finalizing the pattern, and having it test knit by several fabulous knitters, my first garment pattern, Tionne, was released to the world at the beginning of November!
TionneCollage
Skacel has generously offered up a sweater’s worth of Kenzie to one lucky winner!  Seriously lucky, because trust me, Kenzie is an AWESOME yarn!  I had a fantastic time knitting with it, and I’ve been wearing my soft, cozy sweater all the time since I finished it.  Love it SO MUCH!!
Want to win the yarn to make Tionne? Check out the gorgeous colorways on the Skacel site and leave a comment here with your choice of the two you would use! Deadline to enter is Friday, November 20th at 12 pm PST. Good luck!

The Matalina Pullover – Interweave Knits Winter 2015

It’s probably not a coincidence that my favorite design from the latest issue of Interweave Knits is the Matalina Pullover by designer Josie Mercier. After all, the yarn she used is the sumptuous Cashmere Queen from Schoppel-Wolle. Any garment designed with a merino, cashmere and silk blend is going to be a winner, and Matalina certainly is that. We invited Josie to tell us all about her experience with this design and the yarn, and here’s her story.

Enjoy!

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The Matalina sweater began in February of 2014 – and my home in Canada is sweater inspiration incarnate in February. An email came from Interweave Knits saying that they were looking for finer-gauged cabled sweaters. I love cables and sweaters individually, and together they are my very favourite thing to design and to knit.

Image1 blog

 

I knew that I wanted the sweater to be fitted with waist shaping and set-in sleeves since lighter weight yarns are great for closer-fitting garments. I’ve had a thing for staggered cables lately and they seem to be working themselves into many of my design ideas. I wanted the loopy, staggered cables to take center stage in this pattern, not only because they appeal to me so much, but because another repeat can be added to each edge of the panel to make it wider for larger bust sizes. I also liked that, there was a center point to the cable which could be incorporated into the neck shaping. The other two cables were chosen because the scale worked nicely with the center panel.

Image2 blog

After all the design elements were assembled, I searched for a name that was feminine and classic but not saccharine and finally found it in fiction: Matalina, the ethereally beautiful four-inch tall fairy wife with a heart of gold and nerves of steel from Kim Harrison’s novel “Dead Witch Walking”.

Image4 blog

After the Matalina pattern was accepted by Interweave Knits, I began eagerly checking the mail for the yarn that Interweave had chosen. When I first heard that the yarn I was getting was a single ply, I was nervous that the cables would be obscured by the puffiness of the yarn. Once I saw the yarn swatched up, I knew that I’d had no reason to be nervous. Schoppel-Wolle’s Cashmere Queen is ever-so-slightly felted which keeps the yarn from overwhelming the stitch pattern, but it still has just enough of the lightness and halo of a single ply. And the green colour was bright enough to be cheerful but not so bright as to be overbearing.

swatch blog

Knitting up this cabled sweater on US Size 5 / 3.75 mm needles on a tight deadline will forever be near the top of my list when I think of my knitting accomplishments. Fortunately, it’s never that difficult to spend long hours with cashmere and silk running through your fingers. Never the less, it was with a great sense of accomplishment that I blocked this sweater the day before it needed to go off in the mail. That good feeling flattened like wet angora when I looked down at the sweater and found a mistake in the cable. One that could not be fixed without ripping out at least two weeks of work. One that I had no hope of fixing in time. One that stayed in the sweater can be seen in the magazine’s photographs.

And no, I’m not going to tell you where the mistake is!

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A finished sweater! I always take a snapshot of my finished sweaters before mailing them off because I’m terrified that something will happen to it in transit and I’ll have no proof that I’ve done all that work.

You can buy the magazine at your LYS or via the Interweave site. Take a look at all the glorious colorways of Cashmere Queen on our site and ask for it at your LYS!

Meet HiKoo Kenzington!

We introduced Hikoo Kenzie a couple of years back, and it has been so successful because it’s a soft, wearable tweed at a versatile worsted-weight gauge. We’re excited to introduced Kenzie’s bulkier cousin, HiKoo Kenzington!

Kenzington

 

It knits up at 3 1/2-4 stitches per inch on a US 9-11 needle, so the timing is perfect for holiday gift knitting. The lightweight chainette construction means you’ll get stitch definition without being weighed down with a heavy garment or accessory! Feast your eyes on the beautiful color palette:

PicMonkey Collage

Kenzington will be arriving in stores in the next few weeks! We have a new free magalog coming soon, too, which has some great free patterns using this great yarn. In the meantime, there are over 11,000 patterns in Ravelry that have this gauge and recommended needle size. That should keep you busy for a little while!

Guest post: The evolution of Evolution by Rachel Henry

Our next The Fiber Factor KAL (beginning November 2nd) is the Evolution Shawl by designer and contestant Rachel Henry. She shares her thoughts on the design and yarn selection process in today’s guest post. Be sure to check out all the gorgeous Evolution Shawls that are already posted on Ravelry, pick up your yarn and get ready to cast on! You’ll have a gorgeous FO in time for holiday gifting (or wearing)!

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It’s been more than a year since I received the details of the very first challenge of The Fiber Factor. I was so excited to open the box and get started! The challenge itself was wide open: “Knit Your Life!”  declared the judges. The unassuming cardboard box contained a wealth of gorgeous yarn, and each ball cried out for swatching.

yarn choices

I had already decided that the best representation of my life (or, at the very least, my knitterly life) was a big lacy/textured shawl with lots of complexity and flow. Stitch dictionaries spread around me, I swatched with my first choice yarn: Leinen Los (left). I had a serious crush on that yarn!  Alas, it proved too fantastic in and of itself and the lace pattern could barely be seen. I moved on to my second choice yarn, Unisono right), and found happiness there.

PicMonkey Collage

The stitch patterns I chose for Evolution begin simply and flow into each other with increasing complexity. The shawl shape is my personal favorite: six increases on every right-side row form the body into a graceful curve that is easy to wear and has an appealing flourish.

I made charts and a spreadsheet to track my progress – knitting on a short deadline requires organizational skills and commitment! Each day I knit my scheduled allotment of stitches, and I finished with time to spare.

finished Evolution

I had hoped for a more enthusaistic reception from the judges … if I recall correctly, one of the criticisms was that the color changes of self-striping Unisono obscured the stitch patterns.  With time I’ve come to accept that this is true, not least because I’ve recently re-knit Evolution in a solid color myself. It is much more serene than the vibrant original, and the stitch patterns shine.  I’ll never give up my love of colorful self-striping yarn, I promise, but I have learned that sometimes a little restraint goes a long way.

Meet Zumie! New for fall 2014!

Skacel is excited to announce the arrival of HiKoo’s new quick-knit … Zumie (pronounced ‘zoo-me’)! 

A well-balanced blend of wool, nylon, and acrylic, this voluminous fiber works up effortlessly on US 13 needles, providing wonderful drape and stitch definition. Each hank is 110 yards and 200 grams.

Available in 24 colors, Zumie is available through your LYS or local HiKoo stockist.

zumie color chart

Playing on Zumie’s quick-knit element, each hank features two complimentary patterns printed on the inside of the banding (for those seeking some instant gratification).  The hat or cowl can each be knit with just one skein! They will definitely be my go-to gift knit this fall. 

PicMonkey Collage

The pattern uses a cool slip-stitch ribbing technique, which you can see demonstrated on our YouTube channel, Skacelevision.

 Zumie will begin arriving in shops in mid-to-late June. These projects are perfect vacation knitting, so be sure to pick up a few skeins. You can knock out some holiday gifts before school starts!

Simplinatural for spring

We introduced Simpliworsted two and a half years ago, and our customers have embraced it as a soft, squishy and versatile workhorse. Now, we’re taking that yarn to the next level with Simplinatural. It’s a plied alpaca, wool and silk blend that is best described by the word “yummy.” Really. And what a gorgeous color palette!

simplinatural

The Shoreline Moebius Cowl is a free pattern written specifically for this yarn, and it’s a perfect cozy accessory for this winter that won’t end! Of course, you can use any color combination you like.

Shoreline Moebius Cowl by Skacel Collection Inc.

Designer and shop owner StevenBe also designed a cowl, and it’s double stranded with Schulana Kid-Paillettes, which takes the luxe look to another level!

Simplielegant by StevenBe resized

If you are a garment knitter, check out this great design by the inimitable Sally Melville. L’Enveloppe is a great easy-wear option that has a simple style that will really show off the beauty of the yarn! Of course, the Hunger Games vibe is an added bonus! The pattern is available to purchase in store, which is a great option, especially if you want to talk to your favorite Skacel shop owner about sizing, etc.

L'Enveloppe by Sally Melville

More and more of our retailers are receiving Simplinatural every day. Stop by your LYS and ask for it. It’s sumptuous!

Love CoBaSi? Meet CoBaSi Plus!

One of our Facebook fans commented that CoBaSi was the “Best sock yarn ever plus the color ways r absolutely beautiful!” Of course, we couldn’t agree more :). In fact, the response to the fingering weight has been so tremedous, we have released CoBaSi Plus, a true worsted weight. It has the same fiber content as its lighter cousin – 55% Cotton, 16% Bamboo, 8% Silk, 21% Elastic Nylon, and knits up at 5 stitches to the inch on a US size 7 needle. If you haven’t tried CoBaSi, you’ll find that the cotton and silk provide softness, while the bamboo and elastic nylon provide strength and foregiveness. Perfect for so many uses, and obviously an ideal option for those with wool sensitivities.

Another plus (pardon the pun!) is that has the same color range as original CoBaSi, so you can use the CoBaSi for socks to match a cardigan in CoBaSi Plus, for example. With so many colors, the options are nearly endless!

Cobasi Plus shade card resized

We have a free pattern available on our site that is the perfect opportunity to try out this yarn. It’s a simple, unisex pullover that has a broad range of sizes (up to 38″ chest!). A great sweater for older/younger siblings!

bookish pullover cropped

Check with your local or online Hikoo stockist to see if they have CoBaSi in stock. They can always order the colors you need.

New yarns for Spring 2014!

It’s hard to believe that spring will actually come one day, but we’ll be thinking about lighter weight garments pretty soon! Hikoo has recently introduced three new yarns, Rylie (a beautiful alpaca/silk/linen blend), Simplinatural (a luxurious alpaca/silk/wool blend) and CoBaSi Plus (a worsted weight version of our popular fingering weight CoBaSi).

Let’s take a closer look at Rylie, shall we?

This lightweight luxury sportweight yarn is a transeasonal wonder. Lusciously soft baby alpaca is enriched with the elegant drape and gleam of mulberry silk and the rustic tactile appeal of linen. Each fiber takes the dye slightly differently, which results in a lovely heathered colorways. Dyed in soft pastels, beachy brights and glowing neutrals, Rylie has excellent stitch definition, too!  Each 100-gram hank is 274 yards and knits up to 6 stitches to the inch on a US 3 or 4 needle.

The shade card show the fabulous colorway range. There’s a color for every type of garment or accessory!

Rylie shade card

The Scalloptini Pullover (available through your local yarn store) is the perfect warm-weather layering piece. The femininity of the lace is accentuated by the beautiful drape of the fabric. 

Scalloptini Pullover by Kathy Hightower

The talented designer and shop owner StevenBe takes the yarn in a completely different direction with his Really Rylie cowl (available as a Ravelry download), where he double strands Rylie with Schulana Kid-Paillettes.

Really Rylie by StevenBe

Stop by your local Skacel shop and experience this and our other beautiful yarns in person!

January Recollections

Hello! It’s been about a month since our trade show filled January and while I already posted a wrap-up of the first half here, I have yet to fill you in on the second leg of the fiber filled journey. Yarn shops everywhere flock to The National NeedleArts Association winter trade show (known simply as TNNA) to get a glimpse of what’s new in the world of yarn (we introduced our spring yarns and the Building Blocks pattern book by Michelle Hunter). But I’m getting ahead of myself…

Karin and I flew back from NYC exhausted and inspired. It was an incredible busy show for us, introducing the new addi Click Lace Long Tip set and putting on two fashion shows. We formed the smallest knitting group known to man and kept an eye on the unusual Seattle forecast…

To distract myself from weather related turbulence, I dove headlong into a graphic novel series called Y: The Last Man. I squealed with delight when I saw one of the toughest characters knitting!

When Y (the last man) gave her grief about her feminine hobby she replied that knitting needles, as we all know, are plenty dangerous…

Upon landing, we were hit with a surreal scene. Oppressive Pacific NW gray had given way to cold white, and for the next 24 hours even simple errands became monumental events. Seattle isn’t quite equipped to handle snowfall, as I would learn the next day…

This is me at the start of my trek to Phoenix, a bit underdressed, but well-layered and excited to head to a state I’d never visited before.

And this is my coworkers and me, coming to terms with multiple cancelled flights…

When I learned that we were stuck for at least 6 hours, I did what any self-respecting polish addict would do. I headed straight for the Butter London salon in Concourse C! I’m normally a DIY kinda girl, so it was a treat to have someone else do my nails. This is olive green Wallis with a topcoat of West End Wonderland. I called this my Money Mani, since it had all the colors of American money: green cash and silvery, coppery coins. Knitting in public all day is so much more fun when you have blingtastic nails like these.

When we finally got a flight out, it was headed for Long Beach, California. Which would have been great last year (TNNA used to be held in Long Beach), but this year it meant that we had to rent a car near midnight and drive through the night to get to Phoenix on time to set up our booth. GOOD TIMES!

We had burgers and french fries at an unseemly hour and brainstormed names for a new product. The dark desert landscapes were totally lost on our delirious group and around 6 a.m., we rolled into Phoenix.

We set up the booth in a bit of a fog, but when we came back the next day were were all really pleased with our Seattle inspired Skacel Fiber Market (which came complete with produce, crabs and Artfelt flying fish).

The rest of TNNA was kind of a blur! A very fun, friend-filled blur, with plenty of breaks for wonderful and odd meals like this one, an upscale TV dinner:

There were new friends (the adorable Ravelry babies):

Amazing knits (Michelle Hunter’s spectacular tights):

 

And before I knew it, it was over. I have a time tested way of staving off the post-show blues, and it involves a decadent pre-flight beverage and a stack of magazines, some silly and some skill-building.

As you can see, it’s quite the whirlwind. We returned revived from seeing old friends and getting a dose of sun, minds full of ideas for JUNE…

 CR